posted on June 03, 2007 03:00
TV chat-shows in the 1980s depended a lot on The Drunken Celebrity. In Britain or Ireland this usually meant inviting (for no reason whatsoever) George Best or Oliver Reed, leaving plenty of alcohol in their dressing room, and then gasping in mock horror as they slurred, swore and staggered their way into the next morning's tabloids. It was cynical, depressing and strangely compelling.
In France this role was filled by the country's greatest ever pop songwriter, Serge Gainsbourg. On one of his many notorious television appearances he burned a 500 franc banknote - an illegal act in France.
However, his most infamous antic will always be the time in 1986 when he was a guest on a show called "Champs-Elysées" alongside a young and (then) squeaky-clean Whitney Houston, in her first year as a worldwide star.
Having sung her smash hit 'Saving All My Love For You', Whitney was brought by presenter Michel Drucker (still the Pat Kenny of bourgeois French TV) over to the couch where Serge was waiting. Fairly well tanked up by this stage, Serge gallantly kissed her hand and then proceeded to give Whitney the full force of his charm.
Hands all over her (and with a troublemaking look in his eye) he complemented her in slurred English on her looks before delivering his smoothest chat-up line: 'I want to f**k her'.
Whitney, in fairness to her, reacted in good humour. After gasping playfully at his naughty word, she calmed Serge down by holding his hand for the rest of the interview. And Gainsbourg, for his part, apologised almost immediately.
By contrast, the panicking presenter Drucker (in a Kenny-style lack of coolness) tried to convince Whitney that what Serge had IN FACT said was 'you are very beautiful' - to which Serge responded by clarifying that what he had indeed said was 'I want to f**k her'.
Today, of course, it is still shocking to say you want to sleep with Whitney Houston, but for altogether different reasons.
Re-live the greatest chat-up line of all right here. Fortunately, all the important parts are in English: